15. Answering Overview Questions about Mini-Talks

After each extended conversation in Part C, there are three or four questions. Usually the first question is an overview question. To answer this type of question, you need an understanding of the whole talk rather than of any specific point.

Overview Questions for the Mini-Talks

  • What is the main idea/main point/main topic of the lecture?
  • What is the purpose of this talk?
  • Where was this lecture given?
  • When was this talk given?
  • In what course was this lecture given?
  • What is the speaker’s occupation?
  • Who is the audience for this talk?

Main idea, main topic, and main point questions must correctly summarize the talk. Incorrect answers for these questions are too general, too specific, or incorrect according to the lecture.
Although these questions require an overall understanding of the talk, the first few sentences often “set the scene.” In other words, the opening lines of the talk establish the time, place, and main topic. Read the opening lines of the Mini-Talk given below:

Good morning, everyone. As you probably know, this class is a continuation of a course that began last term. Last term we focused on American writers of the nineteenth century. Today we’ll begin our study of twentieth-century novelists with a look at Ernest Hemingway.

From this introduction, we know that

. . . the speaker is a teacher
. . . the audience is a group of students
. . . the course is in American literature
. . . the talk will concern Ernest Hemingway

Not all talks will begin with so much detail. However, it is important to concentrate on the opening lines to learn this kind of information.

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